Asparagus growers urged not to cut prices and to avoid commoditising 'luxury' produce

"You do not need to cut the price" was the message from marketing experts at this year's Euroasper conference.

Image: Asparagus Growers' Association
Image: Asparagus Growers' Association

Andrew Fearne, professor of food marketing and supply-chain management and director of the Centre for Value Chain Research at Kent Business School and Adrian Barlow - English Apples and Pears chief executive and adviser to the Asparagus Growers' Association, both warned growers against "commoditising" the vegetable.

Fearne said that Tesco clubcard statistics show that young families and young adults are the main buyers of asparagus and that the vegetable is largely bought in the more affluent areas of the country, such as the South East.

He said: "The people who buy asparagus do not care what they pay for good food - so do not make it cheaper."

"In some parts of the world, asparagus is just another vegetable. You must not fall into this same trap. You cannot go down the same path as so many other fruit and vegetable producers just to commoditise your production. Larger scale just means poorer quality."

He added that "asparagus is doing really well", with its sales value up by 13 per cent (in the 52 weeks to 7 March 2010) and volume up seven per cent.

"Eleven per cent of shoppers have bought asparagus in the past year - what a fantastic number because it's so small. You can work on that."

"Staying in is the new going out. If we are feeling the pinch we will go and buy some asparagus and wine."

Barlow agreed: "Asparagus needs to be a product that's perceived to be a luxury product - not commonplace."

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